Unid group

Bruno Tilgner (100533.2016@compuserve.com)
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 15:13:18 -0500

Alphonse Pouplier wrote:

>>A guy of the french magazine Ciel & Espace sent me
a message saying that he saw a group of 5 to 8 (!) satellites
crossing the sky of Paris on december 14 1996 between
21:45 and 22:00 UTC 
Coordinates of PARIS: 48d52m NORTH 2d20m EAST
He says that the magnitude of each one was 2 to 3.
And they passed near the zenith.
I'm sorry for the lack of precision but I'm sure that
guy did not confuse. It was satellites.
Any idea?<<

I have sent this posting by fax to PIERRE NEIRINCK, one of the leading experts
in this field, and received an answer within less than 30 minutes. His comments
are the following:

1. it is not clear whether a passage of 5 to 8 satellites occurred at some
time between 21:45 and 22:00 (that would be my understanding) or whether the
satellites appeared individually during this time span.

2. Were the satellites northbound or southbound?

3. For how long did he see the satellites? This would permit to determine
their height and angular speed.

4. No satellites of mag 2 or 3 were sunlit over Paris at that time.
So they must have been self-luminous, presumably decaying satellites. But
decays into 5 or more pieces of mag 2 seem unlikely.

Bruno Tilgner